Most people’s psychology is built on avoiding failure and as a consequence, it actually enhances the probability that they will fail with their New Year resolutions. – (See more at: http://www.theinevitableyou.com/why-new-year-resolutions-fail)
90% of people are operating in an “away pattern”, meaning they are primarily focused on what they don’t want. As a result, their actions are driven by moving away from or avoiding those things that they want less of. Their decisions and actions are based on more pain vs. less pain, and naturally people will choose the option that involves less pain. For most people, failure is painful, so they will do what they can to avoid it.
The problem with this pattern is that on your very best day, you only get less pain.
In a “towards” pattern, your actions are based on more pleasure vs less pleasure. You are primarily focused on the things that you really want, that will bring you more pleasure. So on your very worst day, you only get less pleasure.
So avoiding failure, while it may seem like a good strategy to stay safe, does not create outcomes to bring you more pleasure. Therefore, you are enhancing the probability that you will “fail” or only get less pain as your outcome.
This can also be explained by another popular tool in the coaching system called “Don’t Spill the Milk”, which is a real life example of how away patterns affect results.
Can you remember back to a time when your mother may have said something to you like, “Hey little Billy, don’t spill the milk. Be careful, and don’t spill the milk.”
Two really bad things happened to you in that moment. First, in order to even comprehend that command, you had to think about every possible way you could spill the milk to avoid doing so. In fact, in order to please your parents, you probably went through 50 or so different ways you might spill the milk so you could figure out how to cognitively negate them.
If you did a PET scan on little Billy’s brain after receiving this command, the part of his brain linked to “spilling milk” would be completely lit up. By trying to avoid it, his entire focus is on what he doesn’t want. This is another counterintuitive area of life. The harder you try not to spill the milk, the more ways you will think of to do just that.
While you’re busy focusing on not spilling milk, the emotions you feel at that moment are triggered, creating a lasting imprint on your psyche. Once stimulated, your brain will start to translate what the entire experience means to you. It will evaluate the situation and deduce, “This is safe,” “This is dangerous,” This is risky,” “This is good,” or “This is bad.” It will then send a message directly to your hypothalamus, which will consequently begin flooding your body with billions of neural peptides. (These little chemicals are hormones that link up with every cell in your body, and they trigger deep feelings at every level—psychologically, emotionally, and physiologically.)
So, with all of his neurons, emotions, and hormones flaring, how do you think little Billy now feels about not spilling milk? He feels anxiety, fear, and stress. Plus, since his brain doesn’t link emotion to the word “don’t,” all it really hears and translates physiologically is “spill the milk.”
If you’re like a lot of my clients, there is a lot of transformation awaiting you with this new realization because of all this will play out down the road.
What does this type of mindset mean to Billy as an adult? Here’s what happens—when little Billy grows up, instead of “don’t spill the milk,” Billy translates the word “success” into “don’t screw up,” “don’t lose this business,” or “don’t get this person mad.” And unfortunately, by projecting those thoughts, Billy will draw those unintended results towards him.
What if Billy’s parents had instead told him, “Billy, pour the milk carefully”? Instead of thinking about ways to spill it, Billy’s brain would have started coming up with 50 ways to be careful. Maybe he would have thought, “I’ll use two hands,” “I’ll pour slowly,” or “I’ll use a big glass.” Then, instead of feeling nervous, stressed, and anxious, Billy would have felt successful after pouring a spotless glass of milk!
And, what will happen when this version of Billy grows up? He won’t be trained to sabotage himself, he will be well practiced in giving himself positive commands, and he’ll tell himself things like, “I am going to prepare so I succeed on this sales call,” and “I am going to plan a special evening so I can create a magical moment with my wife.”
This is the science behind New Age manifestation and neural linguistics. Focus on what you want, and you will create it at a higher level; focus on what you don’t want, and you will make it a reality.
The good news is that regardless of your current thinking, you have the power to change it.